Friday, August 18, 2017

Seven Key Take-Aways from the 18th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange

By Adam Kahn
Senior Director, Marketing Operations & Demand 
Frost & Sullivan

The 18th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange might have ended, but during my time at #FrostMar, I gathered seven key takeaways that marketers of all shapes and sizes will find useful.

The event took place in Nashville on July 17-19, where 150 marketing minds gathered to exchange ideas, build relationships and learn from leading organizations like RSA, GE Digital, TaxSlayer,, Vanguard, MetLife and many others.

If you missed this outstanding event, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with our Executive MindXchange Chronicles! You can benefit from videos of the keynotes and focused session summaries of the entire event, including key ideas and takeaways, plus guidelines for implementing these strategies at your own organization. The Executive MindXchange Chronicles are the next best thing for those unable to attend and those looking for best practices in the industry.

Without further ado, here are my top takeaways from the event:

1. Embrace Disruption for Growth

The companies that are actually disrupting are the ones that are making successful strategic digital marketing decisions based upon critical digital strategies. This is where the disruption starts. It’s not about the technology. It is about rethinking how you assemble your team and formulate your core digital strategies that affect disruption.

It’s critical that we create a disruption strategy that includes 5 critical steps:
  1. Define the Purpose
  2. Uncover Patterns
  3. Develop a Platform
  4. Create a Process
  5. Produce Results
Once we develop a disruptive strategy, we’re on our way to redefining our future. Status quo is NOT sustainable in the age of disruption.

2. Know Your Customer/Prospect Brain Types for More Effective Communication

When you market to “brain types” you can bypass personalities. This key point simplifies a communication plan into four key brain types: Controller + Manager, Innovator + Influencer, Nurturer + Harmonizer and Analyzer + Systemizer. Once we understand the dominate brain type of the audience we are marketing to, we can properly frame the communication in these easy steps:
  1. Identify your audience’s brain type
  2. Recognize what’s important to them
  3. Frame your message to get their attention
  4. Trigger emotion, use metaphor and story
  5. Sell the end result or absence of it
3. Data Is Still King

With marketing technology’s dramatic growth, data continues to drive our customer insight, engagement and conversion. We’re now starting to see emerging areas like AI, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and IoT as additional tools and resources that will continue to help us, as marketers, generate higher quality leads, retain existing customers and enhance relationships thru visualization, predictive modeling and trend assessment via unprecedented volumes of data we now have access to.

4. Quality Journalism Skills Are Imperative, but Challenging To Find

If Data is King, then Content is the Queen that drives community engagement. During the course of the event, we had countless conversations about content marketing strategy, campaigns and creation and I quickly recognized a theme – “marketers lack basic writing skills.” Much of the content creation tends to fall on young professionals who don’t possess proper journalism skills. Where do you find professionals who possess a strong editorial sensibility, as well as a solid foundation in journalism fundamentals? Regretfully, I wasn’t able to garner a specific answer, but the take-away is clear – when you interview prospective team members, don’t forget to ask for writing samples and review what they’ve posted online. Regretfully, strong writing skills are a necessity that many marketers do not possess.

5. We Must Continually Transform to Survive

As marketers, we want to be strategic, but tend to be reactionary. We must continually look for ways to improve engagement and transform our competencies to maximize efficiency and effectiveness for business growth. In order to transform our teams and organizations, we must be innovators, strategists and change agents. As Dave Sutton of TopRight stated, “To truly transform, marketing must get all 3S’s right: the right Story, the right Strategy, the right Systems, all measured through the lens of Simplicity, Clarity and Alignment.” 

6. Org Charts Are Dangerous

As noted by Holly Rollo, CMO at RSA, “Your legacy is your team, not the situation.”

We can no longer operate in silos and effectively meet the needs of our customers and prospects. We must define workflow, not org charts, to place sales and marketing in the same boat to best serve our customers. To be truly customer facing, we have to go big or go home, the Band-Aid must be ripped off. No one said it would be easy, but pain = progress. If we set group values for change and create mechanisms to listen to each other we will succeed. 

7. ROR (Return On Relationships) is Amazing!

The Executive MindXchange is really an extraordinary event model. The main emphasis of the event is to establish meaningful relationships with like-minded professionals and that objective was executed flawlessly. Throughout the course of the event, I was able to meet, engage and establish industry relationships that will serve me throughout my marketing career. The variety of networking and social activities was organized in a fun, yet meaningful way. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome – meaningful professional relationships I leverage for best practices and lessoned learned!

Adam Kahn serves as Senior Director, Marketing Operations and Demand at Frost Sullivan. He is a passionate event and digital marketing professional who has worked in the events industry since 1994 for both higher education and for-profit event organizers, including: ZDEvents/Key3Media, iMark Communications, IIR, Diversified Communications and Rising Media. Adam has successfully launched and managed events throughout the United States, Canada and India during the course of his 20+ year career. 

Personally, Adam enjoys spending time with his family. He loves coaching his daughter’s basketball team and attending as many of his son’s high school football and basketball games as possible. He loves sports and is a diehard Philadelphia Eagles and Boston Celtics fan. He was born and raised in Philadelphia and has been in Boston since attending graduate school at Northeastern University in 1995. If he’s not attending one of his kids sporting events, you can bet he’s trying to carve out time on the golf course.